How to Clean Thrifted Leather Jacket at Home? [Bonus Tips to Remove Odor]

leather jacket

Who doesn’t like a beautiful-looking leather jacket? But it can be heavy on the wallet, or you may have some personal reasons to buy used leather jackets over new ones. I personally only buy a used leather jacket for personal reasons.

You will have to search thoroughly in all thrift stores and wait till you find the best one. And it may have yet to have the typically finished looks similar to that of a brand new one. But you should still purchase one as with some cleaning you can make them as good as a brand new one. 

You can bring a fantastic sheen to a used leather jacket and make it look like a brand-new one with some cleaning. How? Keep reading to understand how to easily clean a leather jacket purchased from a thrift store at home.

Do you also own a white leather bag or purse? If yes, then you must learn to Clean White Leather Bag/Purse.

What Will You Need to Clean Thrifted Leather Jacket?

If you already have a thrifted leather jacket and want to know how to clean it, you have arrived at the right place. Here is a list of materials you will need beforehand to clean your thrifted leather jacket.

  • A can of natural/eco-friendly laundry detergent
  • Clean Water
  • A piece of sponge or a piece of a clean cloth.
  • Two buckets. Bring it down to one if you intend to use a washer.
  • Coach Cleaner or Cadillac Conditioner
  • Scrap clothes for cleaning
  • Toothbrush (optionally required
  • Beeswax (optionally required)

Protip: Avoid using a concentrated or severe solvent or chemicals.

Wondering how to wash your newly thrifted clothes, then you must read: How to Wash Thrifted Clothes

Should You Use Conditioner on Leather?

leather conditioner bottle

We recommend using a leather conditioner. It helps the leather retain its softness and flexibility. The leather jacket will always flaunt its sheen and appear new if you use leather conditioner frequently. That will be some extra effort for you to take, but it will be worth extending the longevity of your thrifted leather jacket.

After cleaning and thoroughly drying the leather jacket, you should apply a single coat of wax to give it a shine and protect it from future stains. You can use any leather conditioner commercially available in the market. One good example is all-natural beeswax.

How to Wash a Leather Jacket From The Inside?

This step is the foremost thing to do to clean your thrifted leather jacket. Move your hands to the inside of the leather jacket, and look for any areas that have stains and need more treatment. Pay more attention to the area under the arms, neck, wrists, and bottom of the jacket, which are more stuck to the body.

Flip the jacket inside out and gently scrub the inside of your leather jacket with a cloth or a sponge dampened with soapy water (avoid using harsh chemicals to protect the leather). Apply more soap to the underarms and neck areas if required.

After you are sure about getting rid of the dirt and stains, wipe with a cloth dampened with clean water.

If the stains are still not getting away after following the above steps, we recommend you try a few more potent chemicals, such as Coach Cleaner or Cadillac Conditioner. To be safer, try using Coach Cleaner or Cadillac Conditioner on a minor porting to ensure that it doesn’t cause any harm to the leather jacket.

How to Wash a Leather Jacket From The Outside?

Identify stained and dirty areas and clean them gently by scrubbing them with a sponge or a cloth dampened with soapy water and then wipe them gently with clean water.  Use gentle cleansers such as glycerin soap or saddle soap.

The next step is to wash the leather jacket with normal clean water. Dip it in the water and allow it to dry naturally under sunlight in the outer area of your house.

Protip: First, try using the soap solvent on a small area to check for any adverse effects on the leather. Continue in the case if it does not adversely affect the leather. Change the detergent and repeat until you find a suitable solvent for the leather.

How to Remove Odor From Leather Jacket?

girl covering nose due to smelly leather jacket

Leather material is prone to catch odor due to moisture and accumulated dirt. Despite washing the leather jacket, you may notice the filthy smell. You can remove the odor either by using Baking Soda or Vinegar.

Related: How to get smoke smell out of leather?

1. Baking Soda

Spray a small amount of baking soda on the leather jacket, mainly from where the odor emanates, and keep it for a couple of hours. You can then dust it off using a toothbrush.

Later, apply a good leather conditioner giving the jacket a lovely fragrance.

2. Vinegar

Cram some old newspapers or scrap papers inside your leather jacket. Spew vinegar on the top of the leather jacket. Leave the leather jacket as is with vinegar on it for some days. 

This process will help the vinegar to break the molecules responsible for the filthy smell. Eventually, the odor will leave the leather jacket.

Before you wear the jacket, ensure you have washed the vinegar entirely.

Related: Will Vinegar Bleach Black Clothes

How to Remove Stains From Thrifted Leather Jackets?

Apart from the natural dust and dirt stains, some jackets may also stain for other reasons. Let’s understand how to deal with those.

1. Ink Stains

You can remove the ink stains by wiping away that area with a cotton ball or cleansing pad drenched with rubbing alcohol.

Related: Does rubbing alcohol stain clothes?

2. Oil or Grease Stains

Rub a cotton ball or cleansing pad dipped in WD-40 or rubbing alcohol against the stained area. Rub it repeatedly till it vanishes. Then let the leather jacket dry naturally.

3. Coffee or Tea Stains

Scrub the stained part with a cotton cloth dipped in vinegar. After removing the coffee or tea stains, let the jacket air-dry.

Oh no! Have you spotted gum stains on your leather jacket? Learn to remove gum from leather.

Wondering how to wash your newly thrifted shoes, then you must read: How to Clean Thrifted Shoes

  • How do you get the thrift store smell out of a leather jacket?

    You can use baking powder or vinegar. You also need to give some air to the leather jacket. Remember, the leather jacket had been crammed up in the tiny space, accumulating all the other materials and fumes all these days in that thrift store. In addition, you can also use certain odor-absorbing materials to suck out the filthy odor from your leather jacket

  • How do you deodorize leather?

    You can deodorize leather with white vinegar or cheap alcohol. Spray a small amount of cheap alcohol or diluted white vinegar on the inside and outside of the leather jacket. Ensure you do not drench the leather jacket. Let the leather jacket dry in the air naturally.

  • What happens if you put leather in the washing machine?

    The leather may get damaged or unraveled if used in a washing machine. In addition, the color may even fade away.

Do you own or wish to buy faux leather products? If your answer is yes, then you must read: How to Wash Faux Leather


You can procure a leather jacket at an affordable price from a thrift store. You may have to wait to find a good leather jacket. In addition, you may not expect it to be in a condition similar to that of a brand-new leather jacket.

You may have to clean and wash your newly thrifted leather jacket before you can use it. The good part is you can clean and wash it by yourself easily at home. The process is simple and not so time-consuming. Using a good leather conditioner will make it look like a new one.

Related: How to wash vintage clothes?

Related: How to clean a leather belt?